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I’ve dreamed about a career in publishing for long enough that the idea of
applying for my first internship is more terrifying than Waterstones’ entire
horror section combined. Most websites, workshops, and webinars on applying for
a job say the same thing: Do your research! Give examples!

Tonight, I had the opportunity to receive unique advice pertaining directly
to the publishing industry through SYP North’s panel, “Behind the Scenes of
Publishing Recruitment”. Anne Ashworth (Head of Apprenticeships at Pearson
plc), Suzy Astbury (Managing Director of Inspired Selection), and Raakhi Vadera
(HR Manager at Pan Macmillan) combined their years of recruitment experience to
share some behind-the-scenes secrets about getting hired. Here are three of the
most intriguing things I learned.

1. “Experience” has many meanings.

Have you ever seen a so called “entry level” posting that says, “must have
at least one year of experience in…” and wanted to tear your hair out at the
injustice of it all?

If this is you, fear not. Suzy Astbury points out that a diversity and
inclusivity movement is reshaping all areas of publishing, including hiring.
Publishers have begun to understand that not all applicants come from
backgrounds where unpaid internships were a possibility. Unique skillsets 
gained from diverse industries and experiences are becoming increasingly valued.

With this in mind, ask yourself: What makes me unique? What can I bring to
the company that no one else can?

2. Body language matters more than you think.

According to Raakhi Vadera, the answers you give in an interview may only
account for about 60% of the impression you leave on your interviewer. The
remaining 40% comes from body language, tone, and how engaged you seem. Watch
yourself give a practice interview in your mirror and pay attention to what
your body language is saying. As an added bonus, the more you practice, the
less nervous you’ll appear.

3. “Do you have any questions” is a trick question.

At the end of any interview, you’ll probably be asked, “Do you have any
questions?” The answer should always be yes! Even if your question has been
answered, Raakhi advises you to share that with your interviewer. Questions are
a way to show you’ve done your research, illuminate your values, and get the
interviewer talking about their company—something most passionate publishers
love to do!

Here are some of the best questions the panelists have been asked during

  • What are your company’s values?
  • What is your company’s sustainability policy?
  • How do you support your employees’ mental health?
  • How did you start working with this company?
  • What do you like most about working with this company?
  • Ask about a specific campaign, initiative, or project the publisher is working on to highlight your interest and knowledge of the company.

As I move on to apply for my first internship, I’ll certainly keep this
advice in mind. For more job application advice, see this link
from Inspired Selection.